'So frustrating': How to complain about your airline and why the rules may change


You’ve very recently endured an exhausting and exasperating flight delay. And you’re unhappy with your compensation — perhaps a ss off your next trip with the same airline.

So what do you do? In the U.S. and Europe, air transmitters must follow standard regulations and compensation guidelines for things find agreeable delays, overbooking and lost luggage.

But in Canada, each airline sets its own system. So if you believe you’ve been treated unfairly, it’s up to you to fight for your rights.

‘There were 20 to 50 in the flesh who I thought were going to start a riot.’ — Airline ssenger Joe Bornstein

The case may soon change — at least somewhat. This week, Ottawa asseverated it will introduce an air ssenger bill of rights “in the months ahead.”

Federal Take Minister Marc Garneau said the bill will establish evident minimum requirements to ensure air ssengers “are protected by rules that are both courteous and clear.”

ssenger rights advocates are pleased, but no one is celebrating just yet. That’s because Garneau’s bulletin is scant on details and questions linger about enforcement.

Here’s an delineate on how Canadians can currently do battle with their airline. And why critics are adamant we stress change.

air Canada flight delay

Air Canada ssengers expressing their anger after knowledge their flight from Rio to Toronto was delayed for a second day, in October. (Darryl Metcalfe)

Appropriate to No. 1: Complain to your airline

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) let someone knows unhappy ssengers to first take up their beef with their carter.

That’s precisely what Joe Bornstein did after enduring an Air Canada exit from Toronto to Barcelona that was delayed for 24 hours.

“It was so stopping. It just felt disrespectful,” Bornstein says about the Sept. 20 away.

He says he and about 300 other ssengers were made to attend to — mostly on board — while the airline addressed a mechanical problem.

Bornstein chances it took the crew at least four hours to offer any food: fizzy water be illogical and candy bars.

He estimates after a total wait of close to six hours, voyagers were sent back to the airport where they eventually literate their flight would be delayed until the following day.

“There were 20 to 50 man who I thought were going to start a riot,” says Bornstein.

Joe Bornstein Barcelona Air Canada ssenger rights

Joe Bornstein’s Air Canada bolting to Barelona was delayed for 24 hours. He was not happy with the airline’s compensation tender. (Joe Bornstein)

After another wait for his luggage, he grabbed a cab to his Toronto impress upon rather than stand in line for a complimentary limo ss.

For compensation, Air Canada offered Bornstein a 30 per cent ignore off a future fight.

He wasn’t happy. “This is really just a wile for Air Canada to get me and other people to fly with them again.”

Disappointing deduction

So Bornstein complained to the airline. He asked for a 30 per cent discount off his Barcelona tussle instead.

He also asked Air Canada to cover his round trip cab viands and his first night’s hotel stay in Barcelona — he missed it due to the delay but was hush charged.

‘We were pulled out of our vacation and sent to Calgary.’ — Airline voyager Frank Morris

Air Canada turned him down. It told him in an email that it regretted the delay but that its “indebtedness for expenses incurred due to scheduled interruptions is limited.”

The airline added that his indemnity would probably cover the hotel bill.

Bornstein was displeased with the rejoinder. “It just felt disingenuous.”

He thought his battle ended there, but it doesn’t contain to. If Bornstein wants to pursue it further, he can take his complaint to the CTA itself.

Congenial Bornstein, many Canadians don’t realize they have this election. The agency says it’s working hard to raise more awareness with regard to its complaints system.

Step No. 2: Take it to the CTA

Frank Morris of South Hampton, Ont. took his kick to the CTA after he was unhappy with a response from WestJet.

Morris and his bride booked a trip from Toronto to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, yielding on March 2.

Due to a booking error made by WestJet, the couple wound up on a many return flight than the one on their e-tickets.

Morris discovered the misjudge on the last day of their vacation. He says he and his wife had to scramble because their new retreat left about two hours earlier. It also included a stop-over, combining three and a half hours to the trip.

“It was devastating. We were pulled out of our vacation and sent to Calgary which I didn’t thirst to go to.”

They couldn’t switch to the direct flight they held tickets for because it was loose-fitting.

Morris complained to WestJet that he wanted compensation that the airline provides to ssengers bumped from overbooked flights — about $650 bread at the time.

WestJet Frank Morris air ssenger rights

Frank Morris in South Hampton, Ont believes he deserves sundry compensation from WestJet because he couldn’t take the return exodus listed on his ticket. (Frank Morris)

WestJet turned him down, disclosing he had to take a different flight due to a booking error, not because of bumping. The airline offered the two $350 each for future flights on WestJet.

“We feel this definitive offer of compensation is fair,” wrote the airline in an email to Morris.

Morris quarreled. “I don’t care how they did it, I had a confirmed ticket.”

So Morris submitted a complaint to the CTA.

But the CTA power sided with WestJet and told him the complaint would be “closed.”

No. 3: Shame it higher

But at this point, Morris’ case is technically not closed. The CTA later depicted CBC News that “closed” meant the agency could do nothing aid for him at the facilitation stage.

Dissatisfied complainants can next opt for mediation to resolve the upset. And if that doesn’t work, the agency offers a court-like adjudication treat.

But Morris says he’s already fed up with Canada’s complaints system and resolves to take his case to small claims court.

“People shouldn’t be undergoing to go through what I’m going through. And I’m not finished.”


Ottawa says its pecker of rights for air ssengers will ensure they are ‘protected by rules that are both proper and clear.’

The CTA told CBC News in an email that “Canada’s airlines are among the best in the world.” CTA also said its complaints system works brim over and that the agency “is working hard to make it even better.”

But both Morris and Bornstein after to see a clear set of regulations for airlines that would prevent disgruntled travellers from having to fight their own battles.

The federal government is cheering something on this front. But Halifax-based air ssenger rights advocate, Gabor Lukacs cautions that set balances don’t guarantee a turbulence-free system.

He believes the government also needs to make haste up and police the airlines. Otherwise, “even the best bill of rights purposefulness remain toothless,” he says.

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